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Eric Peterson, Published January 21 2011

NSIC adds two teams, which could hurt chances of MSUM and Concordia renewing football rivalry

Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference expansion could prevent Minnesota State Moorhead from renewing its football rivalry with Concordia.

The league announced Thursday the addition of the University of Sioux Falls and Minot State, starting in the 2012-13 school year. The expansion will increase the league membership to 16 schools.

“These are two quality schools both academically and athletically,” said NSIC commissioner Butch Raymond. “They have good facilities. We certainly are anticipating that they will be strong members of our conference.”

Raymond said football and basketball are slated to be divided into two eight-team divisions – North and South – at this point.

“It may not be in all sports,” Raymond said. “It’s only going to be in sports where we feel it’s appropriate.”

Raymond said the NSIC is considering either a 10- or 11-game league schedule for football. If the decision is 11 (which would mean no nonconference games), that would not allow MSUM and Concordia to restart their rivalry in football.

MSUM and Concordia had already agreed to leave the first date of the 2012 season open to play each other in football, although the game has not been finalized.

Under both NSIC football scheduling scenarios, a team would play the other seven teams in its division. With the 10-game format, a school would play against three teams in the opposite division on a rotating basis. With the 11-game format, a team would play four teams from the other division.

“Obviously I’m an advocate of playing three games (vs. the other division) because I certainly would like to bring back that rivalry game with Concordia,” Peters said. “I want to play Concordia, but as we look at it, there is also a loyalty to the Northern Sun.”

The North Division will consist of MSU Moorhead, Bemidji State, the University of Mary, Minnesota-Crookston, Minnesota-Duluth, Minot State, Northern State and St. Cloud State.

The South would house Augustana, Concordia-St. Paul, Minnesota State Mankato, Sioux Falls, Southwest Minnesota State, Upper Iowa, Wayne State and Winona State.

The Dragons are likely to become a travel partner with Northern State under the new format, Peters said. MSUM is currently a travel partner with Minnesota-Crookston.

“I’m excited moving forward. It adds to my belief that this is the premier Division II conference in the country,” Peters said. “It does make it more difficult because you add depth. Our league from top to bottom is very good. It’s better than I think it has ever been.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com